Many spoke in favor of Tobacco 21 on Monday night, that testimony spurred the Saint Peter City Council to shift course and start the process of increasing the purchasing age for tobacco from 18 to 21.
The Council entered the night originally planning to vote on a resolution to allow staff to bring forward a resolution on Tobacco when or if the cities of Mankato and North Mankato passed the issue.
After public comment that called for the Council to ‘set the standard for health’ and ‘be a leader in the region’, Councilman Stephen Grams told members that he wanted Saint Peter to go alone.
“Initially I felt that we should all do it together, but Saint Peter has been a leader in many issues in our part of the state and after listening to the comments that we’ve had, I felt that we should continue that. Then maybe Mankato and North Mankato will follow Saint Peter.”
The motion to move forward with Tobacco 21 passed on a vote of 6 to 0, the only member not present was Jerry Pfeifer.
While there are still a number of government procedures to clear, Councilman John Kvamme says he feels there is total support on the Council for the ordinance change.
“I’m not sure about the one council member who was absent, whether he would support it or not. But the other six of us certainly are. We would like to push and prod on Mankato. We think the reasons they have given for putting off are difficult for us to understand and support.”
Mayor Chuck Zieman says he supports raising the purchasing age, but still feels it should be passed at the statewide level.
“I see it that we’ll be an island, but for whatever reason, good or bad, I’m not sure if that is good or bad as people tried to point. Maybe somebody else, some other cities will take the initiative and do it with us. That’s the way some of these things get started. That the way the indoor smoking ban started was just by a few cities doing it and then it caught on.”
City Officials say they expect the council to vote on the ordinance change in late April. The modification to raising the purchasing age does not include criminalizing those between 18 to 21 for using tobacco products.